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Education

Plaid wants ‘spot checks’ for schools

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plaidedPLAID Shadow Education Minister Simon Thomas has said it is time the Welsh Government introduced spot checks for schools without giving notice. 

His comments come ahead of a statement by the Welsh Government on a National Model of Professional Learning in the Senedd. Mid and West AM Simon Thomas, Shadow Education and Skills Minister for Plaid Cymru said: “Estyn, the education watchdog inspects schools every six years, and it is time for us to consider spot inspections. We need to consider giving Estyn the ability to go into schools to see the real situation in the classroom, without giving months’ notice. I hope that that is a suggestion that the Welsh Government can take forward. This statement has been a long time coming. “Excellent teaching is the most important factor in ensuring children in Wales receives a world class education. “Despite all the initiatives for educational reform put forward by the current Welsh Government, teaching standards in schools are still variable. The Welsh Government both micromanages teachers and blames them for failings in the education system.” “A Plaid Cymru Welsh Government after 2016 would invest in training for both the existing and future education workforce on literacy, numeracy, breaking the link between poverty and poor attainment and improving attendance and behaviour.”

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Education

Fishguard school last in Wales without broadband

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CHILDREN in a school in Fishguard are excited about next term before the summer holidays have even begun.

Ysgol Llanychllwydog is the last school in Wales without broadband.

The pupils sometimes have to wait half an hour for pages to load. Sometimes videos won’t play. Now the school is looking forward to an ultra-fast future, and for the head teacher the changes cannot come quickly enough.

Currently when the internet goes down Amanda Lawrence has to drive 10 minutes to her other school to send an email to report it.

“It’s frustrating. There are lots of schools that are able to use schemes where you can plan electronically, but it’s difficult for staff here to do that,” she said.

As part of a scheme to target hard-to-reach places, fibre optic cable is being laid along a 15-mile route from Haverfordwest.

Matt Lovegrove, who works for Openreach, admitted it had been ‘a massive challenge’.

He said: “We’ve had to plough 1.5 miles of new trench to put new duct in, we’ve had to put new poles and had to span the cable between 50 poles as well, so a real variety of challenges.

“The product is limitless in terms of speed. It’s gigabit capable, that means they can download music, interactive learning et cetera, and it will be instant for them.”

The wider community will also benefit from the upgrade, he said. “We are looking to work with local government and residents to expand that fibre footprint to as much of the village as possible.”

“They’ll be able to access the high speed broadband and again get all the benefits from that.”

The last school in Wales without broadband

Broadband is a Welsh Government priority. It’s invested £13.8m in school broadband.

But Llanarchllwydog has been a tough nut. It’s taken the efforts of Welsh and UK governments to bring broadband.

“Because of the challenging topography, that we are familiar with, it has taken rather a long time to make sure that every school is equipped with the broadband speeds that they need,” said Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams.

“This means that schools will have the external infrastructure that they need to deliver our exciting new curriculum and I hope to be making an announcement shortly on further investment on kit and equipment inside schools.”

The work is being done through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) £200m Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme.

DCMS minister Margot James MP agrees cooperation between the two governments has helped deliver the project.

“That’s not the end of it for Wales,” Ms James said.

“The other aspects of the rural gigabit connectivity programme is that we are using that £200 million to bring full fibre to local public buildings like hospitals and schools so that they get the gigabit connectivity first.”

The cable has now reached the telegraph post outside the school. The final work will happen over summer.

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Education

A practical lesson for primary school pupils on the problem of plastic pollution

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A PEMBROKESHIRE primary school came up with a novel way to educate its young pupils about the problems of plastic pollution.

Goodwick CP School took its year 2 and 3 pupils to Fishguard Leisure Centre where the swimming pool was filled with plastic waste. The lesson was the idea of class teacher Miss Davies,
whose is teaching the effect of plastic on the environment and particularly the sea.

The children worked together to clean the pool of single use plastic, collecting more than ten bags of rubbish.

The school posted on Facebook: “Miss Davies’ class had a bit of a shock when they arrived at the swimming pool for a swimming lesson today!

“The pool was unfortunately full of plastic.

“It gave the children an insight into what it must be like for marine life living amongst plastic pollution.

“They then worked together to clean the pool.

“Thank you to Richards Bros for getting the children there and back, and to the staff of the leisure centre for allowing us to do this.”

Photos of the lesson were shared nearly 3,000 times from the school’s Facebook page.

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Education

Milford Haven: Major award presented to Gelliswick School

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A SCHOOL which has put family and community engagement at the heart of school life has been recognised with a prestigious national award.

Gelliswick Church in Wales VC Primary School was announced as the winner of the ‘Closing the Gap’ category in the 2019 Inspire! Adult Learning Awards.

The school was nominated by Springboard, a Learning Pembrokeshire
project which runs a wide range of courses for adults and families in targeted areas.

Laura Phillips, Springboard Co-ordinator, said family activities take place at the school every day of the week and the community room is the very first thing you can access when you enter the building.

“When the local authority took the decision to close the two schools serving the communities of Hakin and Hubberston there was some resistance and uncertainty,” she said.

“Before the new school’s official opening, the Headteacher secured funding to support projects to build bridges between the communities, who were anxious about their children moving to a new school.”

Headteacher Nick Dyer said the challenge was to ‘reach out to parents in a way that would bring the community together and to do this in a way that would mean not just a smooth transition to the new school, but would be transformative in terms of skills, ambition and future prospects’.

“That’s why we made a commitment from the outset to support family learning,” he said.

Enjoying family learning at Gelliswick School. More than 70 courses have been delivered at the school since September 2017.

More than 70 courses have been delivered at the school since September 2017, engaging 187 adults aged between 18 and 81.

Courses help adults develop their essential skills and their capacity to support their children in English and Maths. The school has also funded a range of courses that embed essential skills in a creative way.
In preparation for the launch of the new school, the community also came together to produce stained glass windows, a photographic legacy book and a community choir also emerged.

Nick Dyer explains, “Leaders at the school recognise that for children to truly learn, they must be motivated by knowing that others, and most importantly their families, believe in them.

“It is a powerful thing for children to see adults choosing to learn. It is especially powerful if those adults are their own parents and they are learning together.”

Carol Mayled from Springboard is responsible for engaging families on the courses, “I see my students battle all weathers to come into school and learn new skills, either for themselves or with their children,” she said.

“Gelliswick School is a place where my students feel comfortable coming to. They come because they want to and because they want to make a difference.”

Community engagement at the school is now so strong that parents have helped to raise over £16k to support family activities. Parents are volunteering their time as crèche workers to support other families to access family learning and others are qualifying to become Learning Support Assistants in the school.

Laura Phillips added: “Gelliswick School has put the community at the heart of its development and thanks to that, the heart is pumping stronger than ever!”

Enjoying family learning at Gelliswick School. More than 70 courses have been delivered at the school since September 2017.

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